Commercial Law Pathway
Commercial Law, as the name implies, is the law of commerce. In general terms, commercial law applies to transactions in property of all types including goods, real estate, negotiable instruments, documents of title, letters of credit, and intangible property including intellectual property. It includes the sale, lease, licensing, or other transfers of property, unsecured credit, and the use of property as security for a loan. Commercial transactions can be between businesses, between a business and a consumer, or between consumers.
Commercial lawyers might practice in a firm or work “in-house” with a company. Their focus may be on litigation or transactions as they draft documents, advise clients, and put together deals. Other lawyers also use commercial law to serve their clients, and commercial law issues arise in the practice of many other specialties. For instance, an intellectual property attorney often must solve commercial law issues in the course of licensing transactions or disputes, and commercial law provides valuable analogies. Lawyers engaged in a solo practice should have an understanding of commercial law. Legal aid attorneys encounter commercial law issues while assisting low-income clients in disputes with businesses. An attorney in the consumer-protection division of the Attorney General’s Office must have a good grasp of commercial law and its interface with consumer protection statutes.
Commercial law is closely connected to business-entity law; both are in the family of “business law.” But business-entity law focuses instead on the form of the business (corporation, partnership, LLP, LLC, sole proprietorship) and how that entity functions (stocks, bonds, shareholder rights, officer obligations, etc.). These issues only tangentially affect commercial law.